Resignation letter raises Ashfield board’s ire
ASHFIELD — Parting may be “such sweet sorrow” for Shakespeare, but not for the Ashfield Selectboard, where two indignant board members Tuesday night fumed against the third member’s four-page scathing letter of resignation.
Selectboard chairman Thomas Carter wanted to know why Paullette Leukhardt chose to resign from the board on May 1 — “just hours” before a new selectman would be chosen in the May 3 annual town election to replace her.
Leukhardt said she just picked a date before the annual town meeting. “All my reasons for leaving the board are in my letter of resignation,” she added.
“It certainly was lengthy,” Carter said. “Presidential farewells have been shorter.”
Carter said there was no point in the board’s voting to accept Leukhardt’s resignation, since she had already given her letter to the town clerk.
Board member Ron Coler responded to Leukhardt’s letter with a two-page memo of his own, saying that Leukhardt’s letter “perpetuates a pattern of revising both history and reality.” He passed out his memo to the audience and said he wanted a copy of it added to the meeting minutes for April 22.
“So you’re rebutting my letter of resignation,” Leukhardt asked. “I think it’s just silly.”
Coler’s memo disputed several points made in Leukhardt’s letter, which alleged the board’s “flagrant disregard and open refusal” to comply with the state’s Open Meeting Law, and “their continuous hostility and attacks on citizens ... and unfounded personal attacks and baseless accusations towards me, make it untenable for me to stay through annual town meeting.”
In Coler’s memo, he said it has been Leukhardt’s “unrelenting objections to the contents of the Selectboard’s minutes that has caused the delays. She, and the private citizens to whom her letter refers, incessantly insisted that the minutes reflect their position on the matters they brought to the board ‘ad nauseam.’”
Tuesday night, for example, it took the board about 50 minutes to approve three sets of Selectboard meeting minutes.
Coler said the board did not express disdain for the Open Meeting Law, but for “the fact that the well-intentioned law is subject to abuse for personal aggrandizement and advantage ... that it was publicly bemoaned by the chair and many others.”
Coler said that, of the nearly 100 public information requests made and Open Meeting Law complaints served to the town over the last two years, at least 90 percent of them were filed by three persons.
“Both elected and appointed officials have been so plagued by such abuse initiated by Ms. Leukhardt and the few to whom she alludes, that many (town officials) ... teetered on the brink of resignation as a direct result.”
Leukhardt has sided with three residents who have consistently raised public safety concerns about the Ashfield House rent-subsidized housing complex over the past three years, and who have filed almost all of the Open Meeting Law complaints against the Selectboard and Board of Health in recent years.
Leukhardt has also filed four Open Meeting Law complaints against her own Selectboard in March, accusing it of: failing to take corrective actions recommended by the Attorney General’s Office for a previous complaint filed by an Ashfield House resident; having 15 sets of meeting minutes that were either missing, in draft form or were not approved; inadequately listing discussion topics on agendas; and “insufficient specificity,” because the documents discussed at the Feb. 26 board meeting were not included with the minutes.
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277